Mini whiteboards for the classroom
I was asked to write this blog post after responding to what I thought was an innocent tweet – I have learnt my lesson now! The original question was about how do people use mini whiteboards in their lessons. Below is an outline of how we use them every lesson in our department and what a difference they can make to the learning of students of all ages and abilities!
How to use Mini Whiteboards in your lesson
A few years ago we realised the power of the whiteboard and fitted out each maths classroom with a class set of 30 with whiteboard pens and rubbers. These sat in trays and only got used by the more experienced members of staff. This year, to combat this imbalance in teaching, we established a set of very clear entrance routines to be used in every lesson. This required students to enter the room, collect a pen, pencil, ruler, whiteboard, whiteboard pen, rubber, calculator, highlighter and green pen and place them on their desk. The idea behind this being to “make every minute count” so that we are not handing out equipment part way through the lesson or packing away and losing the flow of learning.
We use whiteboards in our lessons in a variety of ways. The main one being to ask the entire class a series of quick questions which allow the teacher to see immediately who has understood, and who needs some intervention to get them on track.
One of the benefits of having the whiteboards on the desks is that students who are normally reluctant to try something difficult are more likely to do so on the whiteboard. I often ask students to try on the whiteboard first, if they are successful then they have a go in their book therefore building up their confidence. I find that students do not like to have a book full of mistakes so this helps them to move on without fear of mess! Another system we are trialling currently is to take pictures of students’ whiteboard work to stick in their book as evidence of their learning. (Not proving so easy!)
Another benefit is that the whiteboard provides space for a teacher circulating to ask an off the cuff question or change the parameters of the work the students are completing. This avoids the need for pre-prepared worksheets and whiteboards can be passed around to share the challenge/support amongst particular students.
One final note on the use of whiteboards… we have “learning walls” in every classroom which are simply 2 or 3 smaller whiteboards placed around the room so that each group of students can access a different part of the class. This allows me to set up extension questions, methods for students to research, or space for them to share ideas and build on them. We also have these along our corridor so that interesting questions can be posed or students can take a task outside if they are working on something slightly different to the rest of the class. Just by simply taking students out of their seats they are generally more willing to engage and talk to each other. Each of these whiteboards, in the classroom and corridor, are surrounded by question stems. This is to encourage both staff and students to ask those higher order questions and pose more challenge throughout the lessons.
So there you have it… my version of why the mini whiteboard will always be the most fashionable mini you will ever find!